I've always had a passion for sport.
For as long as I can remember I loved being active, making up new games to play with friends, or on my own. However, I was never destined to be an elite athlete. Growing up I was the shortest kid in the class, born 5 weeks pre-mature with pretty awful motor skills. I loved sport, I just wasn't very good at anything. Most of my early sporting memories are sitting in the outfield in Baseball or in goal in Soccer and picking the grass.
My lucky break came when my elementary school started a popsicle stick Cross Country run at lunch, got a popsicle stick for each lap of the field you run, work towards goals like 100km throughout the year. I gave it a try and was instantly hooked. I had found something I was good at! I could run for long periods of time without getting tired and I could so easily see progress, keep running every day for a week and the next week I was running further, it was so objective!
My brother and I joined the Richmond Kajaks and became runners. After about a year, when I was 10 years old, my brother (13 at the time) started race walking, with early success. As the younger brother I figured if he could do it, how hard could it be? So I gave it a try, won my first race and was hooked.
As the early years progressed my goals progressed from being the best in Richmond, to the best in BC, to the best in Canada. Along the way I picked up age group records locally and nationally and competed for Canada at the World Youth and World Junior Championships.
Every year I kept improving, and as we entered 2012 I figured it would be no different, I would set another personal best and quality for the London Olympics. Unfortunately things didn't work out, I didn't qualify and was relegated to being a spectator on the sidelines watching my friends and teammates compete and achieve their dreams. This was the spark I needed, watching close up first hand what it means to accomplish those dreams and goals and I doubled down and made a commitment that I would do everything I could to make sure I was on the start line in Rio in 4 years.
In 2013 I made my first World Championship team, finishing 36th in the 50km walk. In 2014 I broke the Canadian Record in the 20km walk, with my still personal best (but no longer Canadian Record) 1:20:12, finishing 11th at the World Team Championships (and leading Canada to 4th as a team). In 2015 I got my first taste of the international podium when I won the Pan-Am Games 20km walk on home soil in Toronto ahead of my teammate Iñaki Gomez, it what is one of my most memorable races ever. I followed that up with 12th place finishes in both the 20km and 50km walks at my 2nd World Championship.
By the time 2016 rolled around I was already qualified for Rio in both the 20km and 50km events. I spent the year training with the best in the world with the sole focus of being as fit as I could be on August 19th (the day of the 50km race). Early in the year along with teammates Iñaki, Ben Thorne and Mathieu Bilodeau we won Silver for Canada at the World Team Championships, with a 16th place individual finish for me.
By the time I stood on the start line at the Olympic Games sport had transformed me into a completely different person. Growing up I had always been solely focussed on the outcome, on winning. Sport helped me learn how to set more individual goals, to embrace the process, to work in a team and to singularly dedicate my life to the pursuit of my dreams.
I went on to finish 10th in the 20km race, my best ever international finish. Going into the 50km my goal was to leave it all on the line and race with the leaders until I died, even if that meant not making it to the finish line. Leading the race till 40km, I was passed by 3 athletes and by 45km I was 18 seconds back of 3rd place. I put my head down and started to sprint. At 49km I caught up to Hirooki Arai of Japan. After over three and a half hours of racing under the beating sun the battle for 3rd had come down to the final kilometre. Neither Hirooki or myself could walk in a straight line at this point, our legs fighting a step by step battle not to give up. We got tangled up and I stumbled. I recovered and went on to finish 4th, and collapsed knowing I had given the race everything I had. It was a new national record, 3:41:38.
After the race Hirooki was disqualified for the incident and I was temporarily upgraded to 3rd place. 2 hours later and Hirooki's appeal was accepted and I was back in 4th. I had the final right of appeal and the Evan who started this journey, who only cared about winning would have 100% done anything to get that medal. However, the Evan that sport has transformed me into knew that Hirooki's actions weren't on purpose, they weren't malicious and that he didn't deserve to have his medal taken away. I elected not to appeal. Nothing about my race changed, I achieved all my goals and I left every ounce of energy I had on the race course that day, I didn't need a medal to remind me of that.
Since Rio I have struggled to replicate the form I showed that day. Finishing 15th and 12th at the World Championships and World Team Championships in 2017 and 2018 respectively. But I am committed to the process and am looking forward to fighting for the podium and personal bests in 2019 and 2020 with the goal being to get on the start line of Tokyo fit and ready to push my body to new heights.
Outside of sport by biggest passion is physical literacy and promoting activity and sport for kids. When I'm not walking I am a KidSport Ambassador, a Head2Head Mentor, and a Sport Leader and Richmond Olympic Experience attendant at the Richmond Olympic Oval. I have my degree in Kinesiology from the University of British Columbia and would one day like to pursue my Masters in childhood physical activity interventions.